The topic of my dissertation is heraldry, as use by national institutions, compared to contemporary logo design; interwoven with semiotics analysis. This has pretty much nothing to do with my practice in the subject module, which is environmentally and economically efficient oriented strand board furniture, with an aesthetic focus on texture. There is however a weak connection in that my dissertation is half involved with branding and that correlates to my push for marketing my practice online and on social media. Unlike the national institutions in my dissertation, I have a unified appearance across all platforms I have account with.
I chose this topic primarily because I was told to pick a topic that appealed to me, as writing a dissertation will test my interest in that topic. As I am a visual person and somebody who likes politics and willing to learn some history; writing about the insignia of the state seemed like the logical option.
During the proposal stage and my rough writings over summer I planned using the mind mapping software called MindView. This was done so meticulously that I found it difficult to follow my own plan.
Additionally, I am a prolific note taker. However my notes are often unorganized and exist in various locations on my devices. Thus the first job of the formal writing process, which began in early December, was to bring all the notes and points of the plan into one document. After this my method changed from following the plan, to an organic style of writing which allowed the flow of the points to be smoother. I think this was a good change as the way I write a point will naturally and logically lead into another. This is in contrast to some students that set out their paper like a form with headings and quotas for each section; a method I believe to be highly restrictive. Another reason for dropping the plan was that I found I spent a lot of time planning and little time actually translating the points into formal language. Thus I simply stopped looking at the plan out of the necessity to write. The organic style meant that some points were not made in the dissertation, these were removed and placed in a separate “extenders” document. Despite this change, the same basic structure remained in place. Monarchy, Government, Parliament and comparison to contemporary logos.
My method of time management is another feature that remained the same. I block tasks together, and will then set aside time, normally two to five days, to get on with the job. After I am satisfied that I have made progress, I will put together another group of tasks. Only the next group deals with a different set of tasks, it could be another university project or just general life issues. I do this for two reasons; Firstly, I was told in the dissertation keynote and in tutorials to break the task up into small segments so that the larger end goal does not seem so scary. Secondly, I actually prefer to organise like this, as I find it very difficult to swap between tasks in a short amount of time. It also allows me to fully concentrate on the issue currently being worked on.
Obviously, researching is a sizeable percentage of the dissertation assignment. Studying the visual arts and being a highly visual person, I was surprised by the limited images that the library can provide, quality images at that. Although the introduction of MetSearch has improved the interface of the library, the ability for the system to understand what I’m looking for has not.
There are other difficulties as well, such as the interface not remembering a results page I had open, so that when I return to it at a later time the lines of investigation were lost. Additionally, the databases that are linked to the library use ancient and slow interfaces that look like they have not been updated for decades. And individually searching each database is incredibly frustrating.
Amusingly, we are told not to use material from Wikipedia. And yet one library’s databases features a Wikipedia page in search results, when it can not find proper results.
These points are important because usability matters; a point I make in my dissertation. I was looking forward to researching a topic that I genuinely find interesting. However, this joy is derailed by these issues. I should point out that I understand that assignments require work on my behalf. However I would express that they do not feel like challenges to overcome, they feel like obvious obstructions.
I had aimed to finalise the dissertation a day or two early. However, these snags pushed back my estimated finishing time back to the deadline itself. so on the one hand, I do not think that my paper is my finest piece of writing. but on the other, I am a creative and I will always be looking to improve.
The book Visible Signs by David Crow formed the bases for my semiotic analysis. I had looked at other examples of semiotics, however they were very difficult to grasp, even the “introduction to…” versions. Visible Signs manages to make it more understandable. I find visual semiotics to be very interesting. And although having just written a dissertation, I feel I have only just touched the surface of what this field of study could provide. It has impacted me in a profound way, to an extend that I have changed my drive in life to; the pursuit of meaning.
I am reasonably happy with the submission. But as a creative, there will always be more that I could do. For example I feel the need to write a complete historic guide to British royal heraldry from the 800’s to the present. I also feel the need to design HM Government a new comprehensive logo system, to be used across all departments. Of course this will not happen, but it is fun to imagine.
The draft submission and the subsequent feedback was very helpful. However I would suggest that the draft deadline be treated like a pre-deadline deadline. with a minimum word count (5000), fully referenced images and bibliography up to that point and a short statement setting out the planned direction of the final deadline. So to encourage continue research over a longer period of time and flag up snags to alleviate the pressure of a final submission.
I have created a Pinterest board with all the images in the my dissertation